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February 20, 2019

HASNAIN NOORANI: Tourism potential can’t be gainsaid

Tourists arrive at Moi  international airport in Mombasa./FILE
Tourists arrive at Moi international airport in Mombasa./FILE

The tourism and hospitality industry is one of the major engines for inclusive growth and sustainable economic development in Kenya. It contributes 3.7 per cent to the GDP and directly support 429,500 jobs (3.4 per cent of total employment).

According to the World Travel and Tourism Council report of 2018, the employment figure is expected to rise by 2.8 per cent in 2018 and rise by 2.7 per cent per annum to 574,000 jobs (3.2% of total employment) in 2028. This is perhaps why the tourism industry has stretched from seaside to mountain resorts.

The sector has the capability to transform regional economic development and contribute heavily to Vision 2030. It has indeed remained the largest service industry globally, accounting for nearly 10 per cent of global GDP. Nearly 293 million jobs, or one in 11

jobs around the world, are within the tourism and hospitality industry.

Tourism's potential has in fact been recognised by policymakers at the national and global levels and is increasingly reflected in national and international policy frameworks. At the global level, Sustainable Development Goals eight, 12 and 14 highlight the central role of tourism and hospitality industry in job creation, local promotion of culture and economic development.

The development of tourism has an impact on many SDGs, for instance poverty, decent work, gender and infrastructure development.

At the continental level, the African Union's Agenda 2063 and the Tourism Action Plan under its New Partnership for Africa's Development recognise hospitality and tourism's importance in driving socioeconomic development and structural transformation through job creation. It also has the potential of catalysing growth in other productive sectors and fostering inclusion through the participation of women and youth.

Most African countries have national development plans that outline visions for their future and identify planned policies and sectoral priorities, which highlight the importance of tourism. Kenya, through Vision 2030, aims to be among the 10 long-haul tourist

destination in the world, offering a high-end, diverse, and distinctive visitor experience that few of her competitors can offer.

This futuristic ambition will see Kenya reap big from the industry.

The United Nations named 2017 the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development to highlight the contributions of tourism towards Goal eight and all the SDGs to create more inclusive and economically stable jobs. The World Bank hosted the Tourism Knowledge Exchange in Washington, DC in June last year for international development organisations, governments and private sector entities. They discussed how naturally shifting trends in tourism have impacted the way tourism programming can advance the SDGs.

There is an urgent need for private sector and government to scale up investment to support tourism and hospitality to achieve Vision 2030 targets. Kenya adopted the National Tourism Strategy 2013-18 to address national issues confronting tourism. The framework was meant to foster sustainable tourism.

The industry has a ripple effect on other key sectors. Indigenous hotel chain PrideInn, which directly employs more than 1,000 employees, is a case in point of how much potential the industry possesses and its significant economic results.

The industry attracts a variety of suppliers and creates other small business within its environment, for example beach activities which heavily benefit from the performance of the hospitality sector.

MD and founder, PrideInn Group of Hotels

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